The Government should spend more time listening to victims of crime and less on listening to soft-on-crime activists, by getting on with making sure there is enough capacity in our prisons for serious offenders, National’s Corrections Spokesperson David Bennett says.

“After eight months, the Government still doesn’t have a plan to house New Zealand’s growing prison population – but we have confirmation, accidentally revealed by Nanaia Mahuta, that National’s planned 1500-bed Waikeria Prison won’t go ahead.

“The Prime Minister has attempted to justify a decision that is going to make our communities less safe by saying that the crime rate is static and that means there’s something wrong with the rising prison population.

“What she has failed to disclose is that while lower-level offending is down, serious offending – including aggravated assaults, sexual violence and murder – is up. That’s why there are more people locked up.

“98 per cent of people in prison are there for crimes like this and these are the people the Government will let loose on our streets if it doesn’t build capacity to put them where they need to be. People aren’t in prison for stealing a Crunchie Bar, despite what the Government and soft-on-crime activists might have people believe.

“And the Government’s claim that National proposed to build a 2500-bed ‘mega prison’ is misleading. The plan was always to build a 1500-bed facility which was based on evidence that shows serious crime continues to rise and this is what’s needed to meet forecast growth in the prison muster.

“So far all we have from the Government is pop-up beds and a pledge to have 30 per cent fewer people in prison.

“Without a corresponding decrease in serious crime or a plan to make that happen, the only way to meet that pledge is to let more offenders out on the street which means our communities will be less safe.”

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